The market's focus is justifiably on the Fed this week, given expectations that the FOMC will start 'Tapering' its bond-purchase program. Also of interest, will be the FOMC members' updated economic forecasts, and Bernanke's last press conference as the Fed Chairman, where he will try to explain FOMC's 'Taper' decision, or lack thereof.
Many in the market continue to hope that the Fed will hold off on the 'Taper' decision this week. A Wall Street Journal poll of 46 economists shows that only a quarter of the respondents expect this week's FOMC meeting to result in the Taper announcement, while over a third of the total see the Fed holding off through the March 2014 meeting.
The Fed will no doubt be the big subject this week, but the 2013 Q4 earnings reports start trickling in as well. We still have a couple of more weeks to go before the (calendar) quarter ends, but we count all companies with fiscal quarters ending in November as part of our Q4 tally. And by that definition, the Q4 earnings season got underway with the earning release from Adobe Systems (Nasdaq:ADBE-Free Report) after the close on Thursday. We have a number of industry leaders reporting results this week, including FedEx (NYSE:FDX-Free Report), Oracle (NYSE:ORCL-Free Report), Nike (NYSE:NKE-Free Report), General Mills (NYSE:GIS-Free Report) and others.
As has been the case at the start of recent quarterly earnings cycles, expectations for the Q4 earnings season have fallen sharply over the last three months. Total earnings for companies in the S&P 500 are now expected to be up 6.8% from the same period last year. This is down materially from what was expected at the start of the quarter.
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